Psalms 71


The prophet, in confidence, prays for God's favour, 1-5;

recounts God's kindness to him from youth to old age, 6-9;

shows what his adversaries plot against him, and prays for

their confusion, 10-13;

promises fidelity, and determines to be a diligent preacher of

righteousness even in old age, 16-19;

takes encouragement in God's mercy, and foresees the confusion

of all his adversaries, 20-24.


There is no title to this Psalm either in the Hebrew or Chaldee;

and the reason is, it was written as a part of the preceding

Psalm, as appears by about twenty-seven of Kennicott's and De

Rossi's MSS. The Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic, and Arabic,

have, "A Psalm of David for the sons of Jonadab, and the first of

those who were led captives." For the first, second, and third

verses, see the notes on their parallels, Ps 31:1-3.

Verse 3. Be thou my strong habitation] Instead of maon,

habitation, many of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. read

maoz, munition or defence. Be thou my rock of defence.

Thou hast given commandment to save me] Thou hast determined my

escape, and hast ordered thy angels to guard me. See

Ps 91:11, 12.

Verse 4. Out of the hand of the wicked] Probably his unnatural

son Absalom, called here rasha, the WICKED, because he had

violated all laws, human and Divine.

The unrighteous and cruel man.] Probably Ahithophel who was the

iniquitous counsellor of a wicked and rebellious son.

Verse 5. My trust from my youth.] When I was born into the

world, thou didst receive me, and thou tookest me under thy

especial care. "My praise shall be continually of thee." Rather, I

have always made thee my boast.

Verse 7. I am as a wonder unto many] I am kemopheth, "as

a portent," or "type:" I am a typical person; and many of the

things that happen to me are to be considered in reference to him

of whom I am a type. But he may mean I am a continual prodigy. My

low estate, my slaying the lion and the bear, conquering the

Philistine, escaping the fury of Saul, and being raised to the

throne of Israel, are all so many wonders of thy providence, and

effects of thy power and grace.

Verse 9. Cast me not off in the time of old age] The original

might be translated and paraphrased thus: "Thou wilt not cast me

off till the time of old age; and according to the failure of my

flesh, thou wilt not forsake me." My expectation of rest and

happiness will not be deferred till the time that I shall be an

aged man, Thou wilt not withdraw thy presence from me as my flesh

decays, and as my natural strength abates; but, on the contrary,

as my outward man decays, my inward man shall be renewed day by

day. It was in David's old age that the rebellion of Absalom took


Verse 10. Lay wait for my soul] They seek to destroy my life.

Verse 11. God hath forsaken him] "God, who has been his special

help all through life, and who has guarded him so that no hand

could be raised successfully against him, has now cast him off;

therefore we shall easily prevail against him. His present

adversity shows that God is no longer his friend." Thus men judge.

"Secular prosperity is a proof of God's favour: adversity is a

proof of his displeasure." But this is not God's way, except in

especial judgments, &c. He never manifests his pleasure or

displeasure by secular good or ill.

Verse 13. Let them be confounded] They shall be confounded:

these are prophetic denunciations.

Verse 14. I will hope continually] I shall expect deliverance

after deliverance, and blessing after blessing; and, in

consequence, I will praise thee more and more. As thy blessings

abound, so shall my praises.

Verse 15. I know not the numbers] I must be continually in the

spirit of gratitude, praise, and obedience, for thy blessings to

me are innumerable.

Verse 16. I will go] abo, I will enter, i.e., into the

tabernacle, in the strength or mightinesses of Adonai Jehovah, the

supreme God, who is my Prop, Stay, and Support.

I will make mention of thy righteousness] I will continually

record and celebrate the acts of thy mercy and goodness. They are

without number, (Ps 71:15,) and of these alone will I speak.

Verse 17. Thou hast taught me from my youth] I have had thee for

my continual instructor: and thou didst begin to teach me thy fear

and love from my tenderest infancy. Those are well taught whom God

instructs; and when he teaches, there is no delay in learning.

Verse 18. Old and grey-headed] In the ninth verse Ps 71:9

he mentioned the circumstance of old age; here he repeats it, with

the addition of hoary-headedness, which, humanly speaking, was

calculated to make a deeper impression in his favour. Though all

these things are well known to God, and he needs not our

information, yet he is pleased to say, "Come now, and let us

reason together." And when his children plead and reason with

him, they are acting precisely as he has commanded.

Verse 19. Thy righteousness-is very high] ad

marom-is up to the exalted place, reaches up to heaven. The

mercy of God fills all space and place. It crowns in the heavens

what it governed upon earth.

Who hast done great things] gedoloth. Thou hast worked

miracles, and displayed the greatest acts of power.

Who is like unto thee!] mi camocha. God is

alone,-who can resemble him? He is eternal. He can have none

before, and there can be none after; for in the infinite unity

of his trinity he is that eternal, unlimited, impartible,

incomprehensible, and uncompounded ineffable Being, whose essence

is hidden from all created intelligences, and whose counsels

cannot be fathomed by any creature that even his own hand can

form. WHO IS LIKE UNTO THEE! will excite the wonder, amazement,

praise, and adoration of angels and men to all eternity.

Verse 20. Thou, which hast showed me great and sore troubles]

Multiplied straits and difficulties. And thou hast only showed

them. Hadst thou permitted them to have fallen upon me with all

their own energy and natural consequences, they would have

destroyed me. As it was, I was nearly buried under them.

Shalt quicken me again] Shalt revive me-put new life in me. This

has been applied to the passion of our Lord, and his resurrection;

for it is added, Thou

Shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.] Death

shall not prey upon my body; thy Holy One can see no corruption.

As applicable to David, it might mean his being almost overwhelmed

with afflictions; and his deliverance was like a life from the


Verse 21. Thou shalt increase my greatness] Thou wilt restore me

to my throne and kingdom; and it shall be done in such a way that

all shall see it was the hand of God; and I shall have the more

honour on the account.

Comfort me on every side.] I shall have friends in all quarters;

and the tribes on all sides will support me.

Verse 22. I will also praise thee with the psaltery]

bichli nebel, with the instrument nebel. Unto thee will I sing

with the harp; bechinnor, with the kinnor. Both were

stringed instruments, and the principal used in the Jewish

worship; and with which, or any thing like them, in Divine

worship, we, as Christians, have nothing to do.

Verse 23. My lips shall greatly rejoice-and my soul] My lips

shall use words expressive of my soul's happiness and gratitude.

Thou hast redeemed me; and thou shalt have the eternal praise.

Verse 24. Talk of thy righteousness] The righteousness of God is

frequently used in this Psalm, and in other places, to signify his

justice, judgments, faithfulness, truth, mercy, &c. There are few

words of more general import in the Bible.

They are confounded] The counsel of Ahithophel is confounded,

and turned to foolishness, and he was so ashamed that he went and

hanged himself. As to the vain and wicked Absalom, he met with the

fate that he had meditated against his father. Though not yet

done, David sees all these things as actually accomplished; for he

had got a Divine assurance that God would bring them to pass.


The parts of this Psalm, generally, are these two:-

I. A prayer that God would help and deliver him, which he urges

by many arguments, Ps 71:1-21.

II. His vow of thanksgiving, Ps 71:22-24.

I. 1. His petition in general: "Let me never be put to


2. He intimates the cause: "I put my trust in thee," &c.,

Ps 71:2.

To induce the Lord to hear, he uses many arguments, drawn,-

1. From his justice and equity: "Deliver me in thy


2. From his word and promise: "Thou hast given commandment," &c.

3. From his power: "Thou art my rock," &c.

4. From his relation to him: "My God, my hope."

5. From the qualities of his adversaries: "They were wicked,

unrighteous, and cruel."

6. From his confidence: "Thou art my hope."

7. From his gracious providence: "By thee have I been holden

up," &c.

8. From his thankful heart: "My praise shall be continually,"


9. He had none to trust to but GOD: "Thou art my refuge."

3. He resumes his prayer: "Cast me not off in the time of old

age," &c.

He describes his enemies:-

1. They were continual calumniators: "Mine enemies speak against


2. They laboured to take away his life.

3. They studied mischief against him: "They take counsel


4. Their words were cruel: "God hath forsaken him; persecute,"


4. He resumes his prayer, and predicts his enemies' downfall: "O

my God, be not far from me; make haste for my help."

He prays against his enemies,-

1. "Let them be confounded," &c.: they shall be confounded.

2. He expresses his hope: "I will hope continually."

3. And his purpose of gratitude: "I will praise thee more and


4. He pleads from his past experience of God's mercy to him.

1. God had "taught him from his youth" both by his word and


2. Hitherto he had "declared God's wondrous works."

3. Therefore, "forsake me not now that I am old and


4. I have still much to do: "Until I have showed thy strength,"


From all these considerations he feels gratitude, and praises


1. Thy righteousness is very high. There is nothing like IT.

2. God is wonderful: "There is none like HIM."

Of all this he had full and satisfactory proof.

1. Thou hast showed me troubles-"sore troubles."

2. Yet thou shalt revive me.

3. Thou "shalt bring me from the depths of the earth."

4. "Thou shalt increase my greatness."

5. "Thou shalt support me on every side."

II. The SECOND part contains David's thanksgiving.

1. He will praise the truth of the "Holy One of Israel:" not

only with nebel and kinnor-instruments of music then used,-

2. But with his lips and soul; heart and mouth going together.

3. With his tongue; speaking of God's goodness to others.

4. And for this reason, "They are confounded, for they are

brought to shame that seek my hurt."

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